Lent (A Little Late): The best thing to give up for Lent
A time to prepare our hearts for the sacrifice of the One who was sent to save people from the judgement they deserve.
A sacrifice necessary to gain us favor in the eyes of our Holy Maker.
And in honor of His sacrifice, we choose to sacrifice for 40 days leading to Easter. All that we might know Christ–yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death. (Phil. 3:10)
And every time I open that age old book, hungry for some soul-sustaining Truth, I see it.
Funny, how you’ll drag tired body out of bed in order to read about animals being butchered. But in my Bible reading plan, I just finished reading through Leviticus and Numbers, and sacrifice after sacrifice after sacrifice is made. Insane numbers of animals sacrificed, on a daily or regular basis. (to be honest…it seems like such a waste, I mean they could have eaten all those animals in their desert wanderings…but thats a whole different blog post)
And then I read that God doesn’t even care about all those animals He so specifically told Moses to sacrifice.
I will not accept a bull from your house
or goats from your folds.
For every beast of the forest is mine,
the cattle on a thousand hills.
I know all the birds of the hills,
and all that moves in the field is mine.
If I were hungry, I would not tell you,
for the world and its fullness are mine.
Do I eat the flesh of bulls
or drink the blood of goats?
Psalm 50: 9-13
Well, great. Now I’m wondering why God won’t make up His mind. He commands them. Then He says He doesn’t want them. But I read on. And sacrifice pops out from the pages once again.
Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving,
and perform your vows to the Most High,
and call upon me in the day of trouble;
I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.
And the very next morning, not so early (it was a painfully fatigued day), but during a few stolen moments while small children built forts with couch cushions, and very successfully unorganized the entire playroom, it pops again.
You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.
My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.
And the pondering and praying I had been doing on what to give up or do for lent, (meat?…no this pregnant body is desperate for it these days, even-earlier morning prayer sessions? no this pregnant mamma needs more sleep, not less. Coffee? I’m sorry but my children would bear the brunt of that each day) it all came clear as to the sacrifice I was to make for these forty days leading to His magnificent one.
A sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving.
A sacrifice of a broken and contrite heart.
And how could the two go hand in hand? Well, for me to praise the Lord and give thanks in the midst of physical suffering? Well, thats a sacrifice of brokenness. Broken of my own desires and agendas. A sacrifice of me being on the throne and dictating to God how I want my world to be run. A sacrifice of my will, to declare “whatever You give is good, and I will thank You for it”. And a sacrifice of praise is one contrition and repentance, for I simply cannot do it.
But I know the One who can.
And as I share in some suffering, and choose thanksgiving in it, I choose CHRIST. I choose Him IN me to accomplish it. And I choose the resurrection that comes when Christ is alive in a dead tomb of a struggling mamma.
And the sacrifice of self,
leads to the Resurrection I long to experience.
So, the best thing to give up for Lent
for this is where I meet Jesus in that dark garden and know Him in me intimately as I, too, cry,
“Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” (Luke 22:42 ESV)
And choosing to praise Him no matter what, is a constant declaration,
“not my will, but yours be done.”
More Lenten helps
And to help with the sacrifice of thanksgiving, I downloaded this app on my phone to help me record all those things worthy of giving thanks to God for.
With the kids in the afternoon (when I can gather some of the neighborhood kids as well) we are doing this Lenten devotional. There are only 17 entries which is perfect for late starts and moms who can’t get their act together on
some most days (namely, ME). We always take time to observe and recount what we see in the painting (most DEFINITELY a homeschool activity as they learn to observe famous historical art, as well as get their hearts probed by the Word)
Last year’s Lenten endeavors.